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Do your passions for the future include pursuing a graduate degree, but the financial investment seems too large for your budget?

West Virginia University knows that deciding to invest in a graduate degree can be a stressful venture, but we’re here to break down the barriers and address your concerns so you can make an informed decision regarding your academic goals.

Understanding the Real Cost of Graduate School

Making the decision to start a graduate level academic journey is the first step in achieving success for your preferred future. But the next major hurdle to jump through is to comprehend and plan for a financial commitment. Perceiving graduate school as an investment for you, gives you a perspective that will guide you through the subsequent costs and commitments, both financial and personal.

LOOKING AT THE BIG PICTURE WILL OFFER YOU THE BEST VANTAGE POINT.

Rising Pay Scale from Earning a Master’s Degree

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earnings of:

Bachelor’s degree holders in 2015 was

 $1,137 

per week

Master’s degree holders earned

$1,341

per week

In terms of annual salary, this is a difference of

$59,124

per year versus,

$69,732

Websites like Glassdoor and Payscale record updated salary scales. You can enter your field and evaluate the pay scale in your desired geographic location.

Current Costs of Higher Education

Finally, it’s easy to forget that the price of education continues to rise — so it may be more cost efficient for you to go to graduate school now rather than later.


According to a report by JP Morgan Funds, higher education costs are rising faster than any other household expense in recent decades.

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Source: BLS, Consumer Price Index, J.P. Morgan Asset Management. Data represents cumulative percentage price change from 1983 through 2013.

EMPLOYER FINANCIAL SUPPORT

The number and the variety of industries that need leaders with an advanced business degree are vast: everything from finance to marketing to healthcare to cybersecurity. Additionally, some jobs even require a master’s degree at the entry level.

Here is a snapshot of the career outlooks over the next 5-10 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for jobs requiring advanced degrees:

Accountants

$67,190 Median Salary

11% Job Growth

Financial Managers

$117,990 Median Salary

7% Job Growth

Architects

$76,100 Median Salary

7% Job Growth

Health Services Manager

$94,500 Median Salary

17% Job Growth

Computer and Information Systems Manager

$131,600 Median Salary

15% Job Growth

Human Resource Manager

$104,440 Median Salary

9% Job Growth

Development Managers

$102,640 Median Salary

7% Job Growth

Management Consultants

$81,320 Median Salary

14% Job Growth

Economists

$99,180 Median Salary

6% Job Growth

Marketing Managers

$124,850 Median Salary

9% Job Growth

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

$90,410 Median Salary

6% Job Growth

Market Research Analysts

$62,150 Median Salary

19% Job Growth

Financial Analysts

$80,310 Median Salary

12% Job Growth

Nurse Anesthetists

$104,740 Median Salary

31% Job Growth

EARNINGS CLIMB HIGH WITH ADVANCED DEGREES

You may want to pursue an advanced degree to position yourself for professional advancement in the market place.
The U.S. Census Bureau noted, in a recent report, that a master’s degree is worth an average of $1.3 million more in lifetime earnings than a high school diploma.

“While those with a bachelor’s degree will earn $2.1 million, and people with a master’s degree will earn $2.5 million”

The report titled “The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings” reveals that over an adult’s working life, high school graduates can expect, on average, to earn $1.2 million. While those with a bachelor’s degree will earn $2.1 million, and people with a master’s degree will earn $2.5 million.

EMPLOYER FINANCIAL SUPPORT

As you plan the course for financing your graduate degree, use innovative resources that may be at your fingertips. Start by simply searching your company’s handbook or talking to your company or institution’s human resource department to find out additional information on advanced degree support.

CHAPTER 101

Employee tuition reimbursement programs are increasing in popularity, especially for adults who desire to pursue graduate school.

Many employers, looking to boost their collective skill set without hiring additional people, will sponsor all or part of an employee’s graduate school program through tuition reimbursement.

Last year, 58 percent of the 550 employers responding to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management offered some form of financial assistance for grad school.

For more tips on paying for graduate school visit U.S. News & World Report.

AVAILABLE GRADUATE SCHOOL GRANTS AND SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

As explained on the U.S. Department of Education website, studentaid.ed.gov, grants are need-based assistance, and scholarships are merit-based contributions to your academic investment. By researching the many opportunities on institutional websites or information pages, you can find grants or scholarships from: federal government, state government, college or career school, or a private or nonprofit organization.


To assist you in your search for non-WVU scholarships and fellowships, our Additional Funding Sources page on our website provides these helpful links (and more!).

ADDITIONAL FUNDING RESOURCES

By doing an innovative online search for additional funding resources, you will come across many corporations who have extensive tuition reimbursement opportunities.


Here is a list of 15 top companies who provide graduate school funding:

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BORROWING MONEY THE SMART WAY

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Click on the student aid site here for detailed explanations about:

  • The federal financial aid programs for graduate and professional degree students
  • The basic eligibility requirements
  • How to apply for financial aid
  • Where to find other sources of aid (state, school, and scholarship)
  • The key items to consider before taking out a student loan

HOW FAFSA WORKS FOR GRADUATE SCHOOL

The fastest way to apply for aid is to visit the FAFSA.GOV website, which provides detailed information and step by-step instructions on how to begin the application process. Make sure you have all the necessary documents and information you may need to fill out the FAFSA form. For example, you will need your social security number, your permanent resident card if you have one, any W-2 forms or records of money you earned for the previous year, and your tax records.


As explained on studentaid.ed.gov, the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan is the largest federal student loan program. The loans are divided between direct unsubsidized loans and direct PLUS Loans:

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Eligible students may borrow up to $20,500 per school year. Graduate and professional students enrolled in certain health profession programs may receive additional Direct Unsubsidized loan amounts each academic year.

Direct PLUS Loans

Eligible graduate and professional degree students who need to borrow more than the maximum unsubsidized loan amounts to meet their education costs may apply for a PLUS loan.

ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF FUNDING

There may be additional aid from other Federal Agencies. Search StudentAid.gov/types for additional tips.
Also, you may find that there are tax credit benefits for students enrolled in higher education. For information regarding education tax credits go to irs.gov.

FINAL THOUGHTS
AND NEXT STEPS

As you consider the key questions regarding how to fund your academic and career goals, it is important to collect the facts about financial opportunities.


Know what budget will work for you, understand how the graduate program is mutually beneficial for your employer or for your career expectations, fill out applications in a clear and timely manner, and reach out to trained admissions counselors who can help you chart a path to a successful graduate school experience.

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WANT TO LEARN MORE?

West Virginia University Office of Graduate Admissions and Recruitment PO Box 6510, Morgantown, WV 26506-6510 304-293-5980 | graduateadmissions@mail.wvu.edu

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West Virginia University offers many excellent graduate programs designed to prepare you for a successful career.

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